Tuesday, July 31, 2007

MySpace

I am, I admit, absolutely fascinated by MySpace.

Not as a user. I don't network there, or have a profile. I don't post pictures, or send silly cartoon greeting cards to hosts of "friends" I'm connected to. And I certainly don't log on, and spend hours searching for people I might know, or even worse, for people I'd like to get to know (under any context).

So, let me rephrase my comment: I am, I admit, absolutely fascinated by people who are members of the MySpace community. Let me say this: there is a fine line, I think, between "social" drinking and alcoholism. So is there a fine line between healthy MySpace usage, and unhealthy usage.

Now, don't go away just yet. I can tell that some of you are already jumping to conclusions. Don't. I promise you-I'm not going to spout the same tired argument about thirty-eight year-old, pot-bellied guys sitting in their sweaty briefs in their dark living room, surrounded by crumpled Dorito's bags, empty Ben-and-Jerry's Cherry Garcia tubs, and crushed red bull cans, logged onto MySpace under the name "Amber," looking to "make friends" with other 14-year-old girls. No. The solution to that problem is pretty easy: parents-be parents! Mom, Dad: pay attention! Find out who Susy is really talking to online, and control it!

No, that's not what interests me. What I'm truly fascinated by is what this obsessive additiction to MySpace really says about an individual.

I've watched-particularly in the past few weeks, and these are my observations.

First, what is MySpace used for? Networking, they say. I'm honestly not exactly sure what that means. Most "normal" folks aren't out there meeting new people on MySpace-for the reason described above, to be quite honest. Most are paranoid to "add" anyone they don't already know. So, my guess is that very little "meeting" of people is done on MySpace. For the most part, people add other people who they already know, or used to know. Which, as best I can tell, allows them to feel ok about ignoring those folks in "real life", as long as they "check-in" every once in a while on MySpace. Interesting don't you think?

And then there are those that love MySpace because it's the only venue where they feel they can actually "be themself." And these-these are the ones whom I truly feel sorry for. Consider this:

"About Me: My name is Bethany. I'm an 18 year old, straight, non-smoking, non-drinking, single female. I just graduated high school and am going to start college in the fall. My friends say I'm cute. I like to hang-out with my friends. Music: I like music. Books: I LOVE to read! I'm Here For: I'm here looking for friendship. People I'd Like to Meet: the older guy from Hanson and the perfect man!"

Now, don't jump on MySpace and start searching for Bethany. I don't think she exists. These are just some of the things that I've seen on various profiles (well, except for the part about wanting to meet the guy from Hanson; does anyone even remember Hanson?). The point though is that this is, in my opinion, the potrait of a very shallow person. Please, MySpace users: don't take this personally! But this says absolutely nothing about you as a person! And if this is where you can "be yourself" then yourself is not someone who I'd like to meet! You have to know a person to know the person. And you can't do that on some page that exists out in cyberspace somewhere.

But the saddest ones, I think, are the ones whose self-worth is a reflection of their MySpace network of friends. The ones who live to be "added" as a friend; the ones who fly high for three straight days when they get moved up in the pecking order that is the "My Friends" heirarchy; the ones who live to see another tick added to their visit counter; the ones who obsessively check their profile, hungry for new bulletins or messages from some friend, somewhere-"Hey. Wassup?"

These ones-they have no grasp on reality, I don't think. They live in a virtual world, with virtual pseudo-friends, who, I can only guess, are equally entrenched in this unreal land of ridiculous names and cheeky quotes that are supposed to mean something, but are typically so obscure as to be utterly meaningless to anyone who's not in on the joke. These ones I feel sorry for.

But, I fear that the phenomenon has gone too far. Everyone has a MySpace! Search around on there a bit! Grandmothers, bikers, teenagers, even a parakeet name Blitzer (very strange, I've gotta say).

What to do, though? I don't know that there is much that can be done. At times I fear that we'll ultimately become a society that's incapable of functioning unless we're behind a computer monitor in some virtual world. Another example of progressive technology rushing us right into the dark ages.

But, I'll do my part. I'll not partake. And maybe-just maybe, it'll catch on. One here and one there will get tired of living shallow, digital life, and will re-emerge, blinking, rubbing their eyes, into the bright sunlight of this, the real world, amazed that there is such depth out there! That's what I hope for!

13 comments:

HansonFreak said...

OMG! I was like totally doing a search on Hanson and your page come up. I can't beleive you remember them to. I am like so excited I can't breathe. OMG! And you just like totally posted it to. Its not like some of the old ones from like 8years. Do you like Issac? I like totally like Issac the long hair is so dreamy. WOW you are like so great to mention them. THANK YOU kiss kiss hug hug

PJ said...

Hey HansonFreak! Thanks for stopping by!

I gotta say-Isaac was ALWAYS my favorite! But you know what? I could never really focus on the band. As soon as they started singing, I would just lose myself in the lyrics. I hear them now...

"Mmmbop. Di-di-di-di-doo-wah. Mm-mm-mm-mm-doo-bop. Di-di-di-di-ooh-ah. Oh-oh-oh-oh! Mmmbop..."

OMG! Those lyrics! So deep! They give me chills!

HansonFreak-I have to say, I think we might be kindred spirits!

Alright-on a slightly more serious note: I do believe, 'freak, that you might have missed the point of this post. I acknowledge that it was kind of subtle-I need to work on being more direct. But I think in your excitement over Hanson and their phenomenal songwriting abilities, you missed that this post was actually an indictment on MySpace.

A suggestion: maybe you should go back and read the post again, and then comment again.

bCjB said...

I abolutely LOVE this post! You don't know how many times some girl has asked me if I have a MySpace, and I've replied, "Nah. I have a life," no matter how gorgeous they might be!

MySpace is degrading society. It's just a race for quantity of friends, not quality. My standpoint against MySpace is parallel, if not more radical than your argument against Bubble Gum!

MUCHAS GRACIAS for this post! It made my day!

I'm going to bookmark it to show to my MySpace addicted friends!

PJ said...

Thanks Ben for the comment!

I have to say, thats a very profound statement-that MySpace is merely a race for quantity of friends, not quality! It floored me, because I've never thought of it in that context!

Come back again man! I absolutely enjoyed hearing from you! And don't be afraid to be a dissenting voice. The ones who do what everyone else is doing achieve only what everyone else achieves. You've got to be different to achieve anything better. Don't be afraid of that man!

Play on bro!

SheGazelle said...

Well said. I know someone who really does all their socializing on My Space, and they are a sad case to observe.
Oh, and hello! Your mom told Katie and me about your blog a couple weeks ago. I enjoy it when I can!

Adam said...

Just one comment. You have several topics here on your blog page. You seem to check it quite frequently hoping to find some elementary thought from some other blogger that also has nothing better to to then to read and write seemingly pointless blogs all day. This then allows you to try to respond in such a way to make them feel incredibly stupid or make yourself feel better or both. This type of jabbering seems aimless when it comes from a man that conducts his daily personal business from a blackberry. It makes me wonder how different you bloggers really are from MySpacers.

Just a thought!

Notice i didn't conceal my identity either. Bring it on!

PJ said...

Adam-Your turn!

Alright, let me first say that it is NEVER my intention-NEVER (even with "anonymous" up there) to make ANYONE feel stupid. If I've EVER done that, please, please forgive me!

That said, I saw this comment coming-didn't necessarily expect it from Adam, but I saw it coming. So, let me try to explain!

I post thoughts and essays here on a regular basis-about things that interest me; societal and cultural issues that I see; about family and friends. Thus, it is a place for me to "record" my thoughts, in a forum where others can read them.

In the interest of enlightened discourse, I make available a forum for you, my readers, to comment. That enlightened discussion can be in support of my position, or perhaps dissenting-and foster healthy argument; either is fine.

Hardly the same on MySpace (perhaps thats an over-generalization; some MySpace interaction may be wholesome and enlightened-I can't say for certain. Here I am merely stating my perception). Generally speaking, though, I gather that very little of any depth happens on MySpace. It is, as Ben said, simply a race for "quantity" of friends, as opposed to "quality." I think, though, that this is a vital, and substantial, difference!

So, I'm reading back here, and I guess that I've got to say that the fundamental differences are that, generally speaking, bloggers (at least those of my ilk), tend to generate meaningful work product, and share it with those who are interested. MySpacers, on the other hand, tend to want to have the longest list of meaningless names and pictures associated with their profile.

Is that difference enough for you Adam?

Love you man!

Come back!

Nannette and Katrina said...

PJ-

We totally agree with you on myspace! We are myspace users ourselves but must say that you have some great points! I hope that we never get to the point of putting personal pages for our 8 dogs! Thats insane! Poor Blitzer never had a choice in the matter! Anyways-love your blog..very..um...entertaining!! lol..keep up the good work!

PJ said...

EIGHT DOGS?!?!

My goodness! A...little excessive, don't you think?

There's something to write about!

Ogre said...

For the past few days I have wanted to post to this blog but didn’t know what quite to say. Until this morning driving to work it hit me. I have been personally affected by online instant messaging or a past form of myspace. It was not necessarily the root cause of my parents split but gave an open opportunity for it to happen. It in a sense destroyed my (what I thought was) happy home. The relationship between my mother and I was torn and just over the past few years has been slowly mended. When myspace came along I was totally against it. I didn’t want anything to do with it because I know from experience what internet dating or talking or whatever you want to call it can do. The reason for this was because I was scared it would happen again and I couldn’t go through it. If this is the way to meet a person then that’s fine but if you feel tempted to meet someone that you shouldn’t be meeting because you are already in a relationship, this could very well damage your marriage, engagement or just a dating relationship. Or this could be a service to just keep in touch with old friends and family who you don’t get to see very often. Which my family and I have enough self control and care for one another to use it for just that. If you are a single person it might be a great way to meet people. The majority of single people on here though have there profile set to private so how can you meet someone if you don’t let them see the type of person you are or what you are looking for?

*cHrIsS* said...

Well, there are so many thoughts swimming in my brain, I don't know where to begin. (BTW - I am glad to have found you in cyberspace and have a link to your page on mine because I've enjoyed reading it and know others will as well!) Anyway, as a "MySpacer", I felt myself immediately going into defensive mode while reading your blog. After reading your take on it, I guess I must not be the typical user. Honestly, I enjoy pictures. I love looking at pictures of other people's lives and I enjoy sharing my own pictures. That's about it. Beside the initial setup of my page, I haven't changed much except for the pictures. It's how I have watched some friend's kids grow. It's how I partook of a wedding I was otherwise unable to attend. It's how I caught up on Youth Convention, despite being able to go myself for the first time in 18 years. Pictures aside, one of the most important reasons for me being entrenched in MySpace is to keep our young people on the "up-and-up". Being their "friend" on MySpace allows me a window into what they typically only allow "friends" to see. It's interesting, devastating, or downright shameful, depending on the person, day, and/or situation. My being there, observing when they forget I am there, has enabled me to help some of our teens. I acknowledge it's not all good. There are some truly horrific things there, but if my son grows up to be anything like me, he'll be a user himself in this truly frightening cyber world soon. I need to remain one step ahead of him, hopefully helping him make right decisions, yet letting him think for himself. Still, your blog was a good read and well-written, but I think not as completely informed as it would have been if you were a partaker. Have a happy, happy, happy day and I'll be checking back for your reply!! lol (Ironic, isn't it??)

PJ said...

*chriss*

Welcome to MyndFood! Glad you've joined us! As you know, I've visited your blog, and enjoyed it! I'll continue to do so!

That said: I understand COMPLETELY where you're coming from. I think the apostle Paul said, at one point, "do all things in moderation." I'm not inclined to pre-judge ANYTHING, or to dismiss any activity or undertaking outright, simply because of misuse.

BUT-it's inarguable that there are SOME out there (more than a few, in my experience) who misuse, abuse, and are overcome by, MySpace. Because it truly is not reality!

Sure-there are positive things that you can do with MySpace! You can share experiences with far-away friends, post pictures, communicate (similar to a blog!)-in fact, you can even BLOG on MySpace!

But those mainstream, run of the mill users aren't the onese I'm talking about. It's the ones who become obsessed by it-who live in a "MySpace" world. Who-as Ben so aptly put it-are simply in a race for quantity of friends (paying no attention to the actual relationship). You have to admit that, if one is not careful, it would be very easy to get lulled into that pointless mindset.

So-don't think that I'm saying that you, as a MySpace user, must fit into any sterotype! I'm not at all! But I am saying that there is enough of a pattern to warrant you paying attention-and being careful.

Does that make sense?

I encourage others to chime in on this, because it's a FAR more heating discussion than I originally anticipated.

*cHrIsS* said...

Hey, I enjoy a good discourse, as I think this has been. No harm, no foul!

Good topics with some very valid concerns and views. As I said before, I enjoy reading and I'll continue to do so, although maybe not as much as I'd like due to heavy reading for my Politics class!! =0(